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Christmas Holiday

Mr. David Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has made to ensure operational readiness over the Christmas holiday.

Mr. Soames: The operational readiness of the armed forces is maintained throughout the year at levels appropriate to the prevailing circumstances.

Eurofighter

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the latest position vis-a-vis completion of the Eurofighter project; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman: Reorientation of the project is continuing. No decision on production is required until next year, but current planning assumes that the production investment phase will begin in early 1996 with a production contract for the first batch following about a year later.

Lockerbie

Mr. Tam Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the film "Maltese Double Cross", by Alan Francovites, in relation to those areas of the Pan Am 103 crash over Lockerbie which are the responsibility of his Department.

Mr. Soames: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 15 December, Official Report , column 766 . My Department has co-operated fully with the Crown Office and Dumfries and Galloway police throughout the investigation and will continue to do so.

UN Military Capability

Mr. John Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what ideas his Department has submitted to the appropriate authorities for the reform of the United Nations military capability.

Mr. Soames: The 1993 British reply to the United Nations Secretary- General's report "An Agenda for Peace" put forward a range of proposals on command and control, planning, doctrine and other aspects of peacekeeping, several of which have been adopted. The United Kingdom has also responded constructively to the United Nations standby force planning initiative. In addition, we have taken an active part in general discussions on ways of enhancing the capacity of the United Nations to mount peacekeeping operations. My Department has been fully involved in all these responses.

Army

Mr. Sykes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about possible defence agency status for the Army's technical branches and authorities.

Mr. Soames: I have decided that Army technical support should be considered as a candidate for agency status, under the next steps procedures. A "prior options" study is under way to establish whether agency status or other options would be appropriate and an entry to this effect appeared in the December 1994 market-testing bulletin. I would welcome comments from interested parties; these should be sent by 26 January 1995 to: Major General P.J.G. Corp, Director General Equipment Support


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(Army), HQ QMG, Monxton road, Andover, Hants, SP11 8HT.

Disposals Sales Agency

Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the establishment of the Disposals Sales Agency responsible for the disposal by sale of stores and equipment surplus to the requirements of his Department.

Mr. Freeman: The Disposal Sales Agency was established as an agency within the Defence Export Services Organisation of the Ministry of Defence on 1 October 1994. The role of the agency is to provide a disposal sales service for surplus equipment, stores, spares and other material to the Ministry of Defence and the Department's agencies.

In the past, there have been major sales to other Governments of equipment in operational condition, in particular ex-Royal Navy ships; and other ranges of surplus equipment and stores provide considerable revenue to the Department each year. The skills of the disposal sales agency in identifying the best marketing opportunities and increased private sector involvement are the key to the future success of the agency.

The previous organisation was headed by a grade 6 civil servant, who has been appointed the agency's first chief executive. The agency has 100 employees.

The chief executive has been set the following key targets for the financial year 1994 95:

1. to achieve disposal sales revenue of £60.8 million

2. to introduce three new storage and marketing agreements--joint ventures- -with industry.

3. to implement the first stage of a three-year programme of withdrawal of the agency fromdirect selling, other than Government-to-Government sales.

4. to improve efficiency by reducing the overhead of the agency's stores activity in Germany.

5. to establish an agency resource data base and interim output budget, incorporating full cost accruals accounting.

6. to develop performance indicators.

Copies of the agency's framework document are available in the Library of the House.

Cash Limits

Mr. Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes he has to announce to the class I cash limits and running costs limit for 1994 95.

Mr. Rifkind: The class I cash limits will be amended as follows:


Class I cash limits                                                                            

Vote               |Current cash limit|Change            |Revised cash limit                   

                                                         |£ 000s                               

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1                  |11,554,200        |- 4,549           |11,549,651                           

3                  |6,404,169         |-11,230           |6,392,939                            

These changes reduce the block defence cash limit by £15,779,000 from £22,777,039,000 to £22,761,260,000.


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They reflect decreases to compensate for an overspend on class I, vote 3 in financial year 1993 94.

The Ministry of Defence's running cost regime has been replaced by a much broader defence operating costs limit covering all front-line and support budgetary expenditure. The new limit will be £17,399,500, 000 in 1994 95. This is an administrative change only, with no effect on the defence block cash limit or on the vote structure. Controls analogous to those of the running costs regime will continue to apply to defence operating costs.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Mr. Churchill: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is his intention to make provision for the re-sparring of the one remaining Lancaster bomber of the battle of Britain memorial flight in time to avoid its grounding from May 1996 onwards; and if he will make a statement about the future size of the flight.

Mr. Soames [holding answer 16 December]: The future of the battle of Britain memorial flight is not in doubt. Current plans assume that the Lancaster will be re-sparred during the winter of 1995 96. Decisions on the future size of the flight will follow the outcome of a routine review, now under way, into its composition, activities and cost.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Special Advisers

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) of 1 December, Official Report, column 843, if he will make a statement regarding his Department's expenditure on special advisers in each of the last three financial years and for the financial year 1979 80.

Mr. Howard: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on 19 December, Official Report, column 937 .

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the duration of the trips, undertaken by Ministers in his Department on which they were accompanied by their spouses and paid for at public expense, which were referred to in his answer of 26 October, Official Report, column 644.

Mr. Howard: The duration of the visits were from 1 January to 7 January 1994 and from 20 August to 2 September 1994.

North Wales Police Authority

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement concerning the establishment level of the North Wales police authority.

Mr. Maclean: The approved establishment of the North Wales police is 1,369. This represents an increase of 90 posts since 1979. The increase is in line with those received by other police forces. As from 1 April next year,


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formal approval of establishments will end, and complement levels will be entirely for local decision.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what revenues he has made available to the North Wales police authority to enable it to develop its school liaison and community-based projects; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean: No specific funding has been made available for these purposes. The police service undertakes a range of work in schools and the community, in order to foster good relations between the police and young people. It is for the chief constable to determine the deployment of resources to meet the various responsibilities of the North Wales police.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will increase the allocation of funds to the North Wales police authority so that it may recruit officers, special constables and civilians.

Mr. Maclean: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a question by him on 8 December at columns 567 68.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what percentage the North Wales police authority's spending has been increased in the coming year; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean: It is the responsibility of the North Wales police authority to set the force budget for 1995 96.

Prison Security

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if funding is always available to prisons in England and Wales when a prison governor requests improvements to alarm systems, or security cameras; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 20 December 1994: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the availability of funding for improvements to alarm systems or security cameras in prisons in England and Wales.

Governors have discretion to spend up to £50,000 from their local budget on capital projects, including installation of alarms or security cameras. If they have inadequate budget available, they can apply for central funding and this would normally be granted if it was an essential security expenditure.

Departmental Telephone Calls

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on telephone charges and how many telephone calls have been made by his Department for each of the last five years.

Mr. Howard: I regret that this information is not available.

Police Resources (Wales)

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the principle underlying the decision he took concerning the sharing of resources among the police authorities of Wales.


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Mr. Maclean: The draft report "The Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 1995 96" sets out the principles on which proposed allocations of resources to police forces have been made for 1995 96. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what percentage Welsh police spending has increased in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean: Between 1992 93 and 1993 94 total capital and current expenditure by Welsh police authorities increased by 4.2 per cent. Final expenditure figures for 1994 95 are not yet available. The Government's proposals for allocations of police grant for current expenditure and police standard spending assessments in Wales in 1995 96 were announced on 1 December 1994, Official Report, column 815 .

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has with the chief constables of Dyfed and North Wales before the apportioning of resources to police authorities; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean: The Association of Chief Police Officers was represented on the Home Office working group which oversaw the development of the funding formula. The draft "Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 1995 96" was sent to chief officers on 1 December. This offers to them the opportunity to comment upon my right hon. and learned Friend's proposals for the allocation of police funding in 1995 96.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will grant extra funds to the North Wales police authority to enable it to proceed with its capital project on the communications network; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean: Projects of this kind are funded from the block allocations of capital resources which are made to each police authority. It is for the Police Authority and chief constable to decide what their priorities are and on what they spend their allocation. There are no additional funds available for individual communications projects.

Executive Search Agencies

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what use his Department has made of executive search agencies in filling vacancies within his Department and executive agencies administered by his Department during the last year; and how much these services have cost his Department.

Mr. Howard: Executive search consultants are used in making appointments to public bodies where it is thought that they will be able to supplement usefully the field of applicants.

Since January 1994 consultants have been used in a scheme to fill the post of prisons ombudsman and are currently being used to assist in recruiting a director of personnel for the Prison Service. For reasons of commercial confidentiality it is not our practice to disclose individual contract values. However, the combined value of the two contracts is £44,000 excluding VAT.


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Asylum Seekers

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the average period of detention of those asylum seekers who are detained;

(2) what is the longest time for which an asylum seeker has been detained;

(3) pursuant to his answer of 12 December, Official Report , columns 483-84 , for how long each of (a) the 103 asylum seekers who have been detained for more than six months and (b) the asylum seekers who have been detained for longer than 12 months have been in detention.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Information on the length of detention of those people who had sought asylum and have been in detention longer than 12 months at 15 December 1994 is given in the table. Similar information for those detained longer than six months could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The longest currently detained person who had sought asylum has been held in detention since 14 August 1990. The individual concerned has been detained for this exceptional length of time because he represents a substantial threat to national security.

Information on the average period of detention for persons currently detained, who had sought asylum is not available.


Persons detained longer than 12 months as at 15 December 1994,          

who had sought asylum, by the date on which each person                 

entered detention                                                       

Port cases        |Deportation cases|Illegal entrant                    

                                    |cases                              

------------------------------------------------------------------------

10 September 1993 |17 March 1993    |27 May 1993                        

11 November 1993  |8 June 1993      |3 June 1993                        

2 December 1993   |12 October 1993  |15 September 1993                  

2 December 1993   |13 November 1993 |9 October 1993                     

                  |4 December 1993  |6 November 1993                    

                  |15 December 1993 |23 November 1993                   

                                    |25 November 1993                   

Ministerial Train Journeys

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many train journeys of one hour's duration or more he has made in Britain in 1994 in the course of his official duties.

Mr. Howard: I have made 24 train journeys of one hour's duration or more this year.

Fire Safety

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for a cost-benefit analysis on the recommendations of the interdepartmental review on fire safety legislation and enforcement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: The Government have not yet taken any decisions in response to those recommendations. Before we do so, we will give careful consideration to all the relevant issues including the costs and benefits of the propositions before us.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence he has that self-compliance in matters of fire safety in houses of multi-occupation will improve standards of safety.


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Mr. Michael Forsyth: Self-compliance under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 for which the Home Office has responsibility is at present only provided for under section 9A. This does not affect houses in multiple occupation. Policy in respect of houses in multiple occupation rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Ex-prisoners (Housing)

Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the rate of reoffending by prisoners who have no secure residence to return to on their release; and what assessment he has made of the probable impact upon this rate of reoffending if housing benefit is restricted for single prisoners to a maximum of 13 weeks.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: There is no statistical information routinely available on the relationship between reoffending by prisoners and the type of accommodation to which they are released. It is therefore not possible to assess any effect on reoffending of changes to the rules on eligibility for housing benefit for single prisoners.

Income Support

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) males and (b) females in receipt of income support have been imprisoned in the last year for non-payment of fines.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Lynne Jones, dated 20 December 1994 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many (a) males and (b) females in receipt of income support have been imprisoned in the last year for non-payment of fines.

The information requested is not available centrally.

National Lottery

Mr. John Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce the date of the appointment of the chief executive of the National Lottery Charities Board.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: This is a matter for the National Lottery Charities Board.

Mr. John Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when charities will be allowed to apply for funds from the National Lottery Charities Board; and what process or criteria will be used to determine distribution.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: These are matters for the National Lottery Charities Board.

Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a definitive date will be given for the appointment of a chief executive to the National Lottery Charities Board.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: This is a matter for the National Lottery Charities Board, but I understood that it expects to make an announcement very shortly.


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Mr. Alton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when charities will be given the opportunity to apply for funds from the National Lottery Charities Board; and what process will be used to decide on distribution.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: This is a matter for the charities board.

Prison Populations (European Union)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the prison population in each of the 12 member states of the European Union.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: The countries of the European Union are covered by the statistics collated by the Council of Europe. The latest available information is given in the table. An article on "International Comparisons of Prison Populations" by Collier and Tarling--Home Office research bulletin No. 23, pages 48 to 54--showed that the figures for different countries are unlikely to be strictly comparable because the definitions of prisons and prisoners vary from one country to another, reflecting different legal and administrative systems. Examples of differences in the definitions are the inclusion or exclusion in a country's figures of juvenile offenders and mentally disordered offenders.


Prison population in each of the countries of the     

European Union                                        

as at 1 September 1993<1>                             

Nationality       |Prison population                  

------------------------------------------------------

Belgium           |7,200                              

Denmark           |3,700                              

France            |51,100                             

Germany<2>        |65,800                             

Greece<3>         |6,500                              

Ireland           |2,100                              

Italy             |50,800                             

Luxembourg        |400                                

Netherlands       |7,800                              

Portugal          |10,900                             

Spain             |45,700                             

United Kingdom    |53,400                             

<1> Provisional figures.                              

<2> Data refer to 30 September 1993, and as opposed   

to previous surveys includes data for the five new    

"Lander".                                             

<3> Data refer to 1 January 1993.                     

Life Sentences

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women over the age of 60 years are at present serving a life prison sentence in prisons in England and Wales.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 20 December 1994:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many (a) men and (b) women over the age of sixty years are at present serving a life prison sentence in prisons in England and Wales.

The latest available information is for 31 October 1994. On that date there were 155 life sentence prisoners (149 males and six females) aged over sixty years in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales.


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Mrs. Peacock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are at present serving a life sentence in the United Kingdom; and what is the total annual cost to the Exchequer.


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